When Duncan Campbell found himself looking for other ways to connect with the wider LGBTQ+ community through sports, he came up with the idea for a new kind of social network. With the sleek and intuitive Rally app now launched, he tells Sports Media LGBT+ why it’s all about bringing people together…
“Go play!” This is a simple welcome message that welcomes users to the new Rally app – but it is also a call to action.
Built by and for the LGBTQ+ community, it is a sports space and a social network that has the capacity to unite teams from all over the world. Meanwhile, it also caters to anyone who doesn’t necessarily pursue that club life…
Rally’s goal is to amplify the work of queer sports teams, businesses and individuals within their region and connect them to the wider community, with a philosophy of fostering healthy environments for all.
Thanks to this new platform, all members of the LGBTQIA+ community can find new friends, discover local events and join local sports teams.
The creator and founder of Rally is a developer Duncan Campbella Londoner who has lived for 12 years in Barcelona, where he runs an app agency.
Sports Media LGBT+ caught up with Duncan for a chat to find out all about Rally…
JH: Hi Duncan, congratulations on the launch of the new app! It has a stylish look and I can see several clubs near my home in London are already open. Explain to us why you created Rally?
DC: Thank you! I truly believe that sports have the most incredible benefits for everyone, but especially members of the LGBTQ+ community. Still, I feel like a lot of LGBTQ+ people don’t know there’s such a wide and vibrant array of sports teams out there.
They are spaces where you can meet regularly, make friends, hang out, build community – in short, have a good time together. I want to make sure everyone knows that these teams exist and that they have a family waiting for them, outside of the social scene of the night. This is a completely different and wholesome app. Therefore, it has a lot to offer.
So it combines those two elements of social and sports for an individual – what does that do for teams?
Through the app, it’s possible to bring all these different clubs and organizations together – to bring all the teams together. Once we’ve done that, we can help connect leagues, and umbrella groups, so everything sport-related is there – from top elite athletes connecting to buddies who go out and enjoy a walk in the park. We hope to create a space where you know you can go out there and find something that works for you in LGBTQ+ sports.
It’s a big vision and the potential is clearly huge. So how do you get these people on board?
Once we’ve all found ourselves in the same space, that’s where the magic will happen! Currently, all of these teams are managed in slightly different ways – some have WhatsApp groups, which can be difficult to organise; some have other platforms that provide social elements, and some don’t; some may still be in Facebook groups, but half of the members are not on Facebook.
What we provide is a place for teams and their members that makes them more visible. This means, for example, that a smaller sports club that runs its own private Facebook group suddenly has visibility not only locally, but also regionally, nationally, globally… that’s the point.
What was your journey towards the creation of Rally?
I’m quite athletic – I do a lot of hiking, climbing, mountain biking and running. I kept seeing that there were sports groups around me in Barcelona, but they never seemed to match what I do. I always wanted a place where I could just say, ‘hey guys, who wants to hike? How about a mountain hike in the Pyrenees this weekend?
Right after the pandemic started to subside, I realized I had a window in my career that means I can dedicate time to building an app to do that. I’ve also accumulated enough life experience to know what I’m talking about! I had this renewed love for my LGBTQ+ community and wanted to do something for us as a celebration – we deserve it, frankly, and an app like this is so much more valuable to a marginalized community.
Everything fell into place, so I said, “Let’s do it!” That was 18 months ago and I worked day and night, every weekend, every second I could, to build this. Now I want to see where Rally can take us.
In the UK we have several LGBTQ+ umbrella groups operating for different sports or regionally. What is your message for them?
What I seek to build is a social network – a place where an individual can connect with other individuals or with teams; and where teams can recruit new people. I’m not looking to replace the work someone else is doing. These umbrella groups and also organizations like pride sports all do a great job of helping teams get set up, organized, and communicating with members. I look forward to seeing how we can work together and support each other.
I also hope to attract charities to the app, for different causes – I have already spoken to some of them. I want Rally to be resourceful and useful, but fundamentally it’s a social tool.
In particular, it looks like it will help for multi-sport events like the EuroGames (to be held in Nijmegen at the end of July) and next year’s Gay Games, for example…
Yes absolutely. I recently met someone from the Gay Games, and we were talking about how we can make this happen – we both have some ideas! I want people to be educated about what’s out there, whether they can go out there and participate, with their team or as an individual, what’s going to happen when they get there and how they can connect.
We are a media organization, trying to share stories on our platform and encourage the same in mainstream media as well. Is this within Rally’s remit?
The big plan is to have stories about our users in the app – not just athletes, but people who have started their own clubs, people who are personal trainers, and people in other roles. It would be great to have a mix of people, some at that elite level, but also some who are maybe a little easier to understand at the grassroots, and who you can connect with.
Can you tell us a bit about the funding model?
The first goal is to encourage people to download the app – every social network needs users. But I don’t want the LGBTQ+ community to pay for this, and that’s very important to me. I don’t think that’s how we build a community.
Some have subscription models like Strava where you pay monthly and get benefits. Maybe there’s a template we can use which is advertising – there are some placeholder ads for brands in the app, to show what it would look like.
In any case, if there is money coming in, it comes from the brand’s sponsors who want to help us. Inside of that, I’m really aware of pinkwashing and it’s not something that’s going to happen here. When there are sponsors, we will have talked about their role and how they will help the LGBTQ+ community. There are ways in which this platform can be useful and make money – any investor would be interested in this.
What was the initial response from clubs?
I reached out to a bunch! Take Knockout for example, the London LGBTQ+ boxing club – they created their profile. When I make contact, I make it clear that all I want is to bring people together.
The goal is for everyone in our community to know they have a place they can go where they have family – Rally is not about anything other than love and respect.
Knockout told me, “Building healthy friendships between everyone in our community, away from the nightlife, that’s what we try to do too.” It really resonates with me, when someone validates what I’m trying to do. There are so many people along the way who have really supported me and helped frame what I do in a way that makes me want to keep doing it.
What’s fascinating is that the app already has quite a global reach. We have people in Australia, Mexico, a bunch of teams in the United States… I was talking with International Frontrunners and they would like all their clubs to be there. I feel it’s going in the right direction.
Rally is now available for download for iPhone from the App Store. For more information, visit Rally.lgbt.
Good luck Duncan! You can contact him at [email protected]
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